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Lycoming  Historical  Society 


No.  4 

History  of  Fort  Freeland 

By  Hon.  Frederic  A.  Godcharles 




Gd!e''t?'i  s-it, 

SEP  28^2 

Lycoming  Historical  Society 


No.  4 

History  of  Fort  Freeland 

By  Hon.  Frederic  A.  Godcharles 




Collected  set. 

.1^  M^ 






Fort  Freeland 

Address  delivered  before  the  Lycoming  Historical  Society, 
February  27th,  1920 


On  the  occasion  of  the  unveiling-  of  a  marker  on  the 
site  of  Fort  Freeland  provided  and  erected  by  the 
Warrior  Run  Chapter  of  the  Daughters  of  the  Ameri- 
can Revolution,  an  historical  address  was  delivered 
which  elicited  much  attention  and  more  surprise.  For 
strange  as  it  may  seem,  many  descendants  of  the  very  pio- 
neers who  lived  in  and  about  that  blood-stained  stockade, 
were  on  that  day  for  the  first  time  made  acquainted  with 
the  story  of  its  long  struggle  and  final  destruction  in  July, 
1779.  I  am  sure  there  were  few  present  who  had  ever 
realized  that  a  siege  had  there  taken  place  during  which 
more  were  killed  and  taken  prisoners  than  in  many  well- 
known  battles  of  the  Revolution,  or  of  the  Civil  War — 
nearly  as  many  indeed  as  our  army  lost  altogether  in  battle 
in  the  Spanish- American  War. 

The  spot  has  just  claim  to  be  regarded  as  one  of  the 
most  important,  historically,  in  the  beautiful  and  pic- 
turesque Valley  of  the  West  Branch  of  the  Susquehanna 
River.  It  was  the  one  refuge  of  terrified  settlers  in  early 
days  when  the  Indians  ravaged  the  Valley;  it  was  the 
scene  of  an  invasion  by  the  Connecticut  forces  who 
claimed  the  northern  part  of  the  State;  and  it  was  the 
ground  of  a  battle  in  the  Revolution,  which,  so  far  from 
being  a  skirmish  of  little  importance,  was  a  very  definite 
part  of  strategy  of  the  British  forces  which  operating 
against  General  Sullivan  endeavored  to  restrict  and  de- 
stroy the  Continental  Army,  and  did  succeed  in  entirely 
destroying  this  stockade. 

From  our  earliest  known  history,  this  part  of  the  Val- 
ley had  been  one  of  the  most  coveted  of  the  homes  and 

(1)     Copyright,  1922,  by  Frederic  A.  Godcharles. 


hunting  grounds  of  the  Indians.  It  was  occupied  by  the 
Andastes,  a  branch  of  the  great  Algonquin  family.  Like 
the  Hurons  of  Canada,  and  the  Iroquois  of  New  York, 
the  Andastes  fortified  their  towns,  and  gave  a  limited  de- 
gree of  attention  to  agriculture;  while  in  number  and 
prowess  they  enjoyed  a  superiority  over  the  surrounding 
tribes  of  the  East  and  South.  Captain  John  Smith,  ex- 
ploring the  Chesapeake  Bay  in  1608,  first  brought  them 
in  contact  with  the  English,  from  whom  they  received  the 
tribal  designation  of  Susquehamiocks.  After  many  years 
of  warfare,  they  were  finally  conquered  by  the  Iroquois 
in  1675,  but  not  before  disease,  misfortune  and  merciless 
■warfare  had  almost  decimated  them. 

By  1725  this  part  of  Pennsylvania  was  occupied  by 
the  Confederacy  known  as  the  Six  Nations,  and  the  great 
Shikellimy  was  the  resident  viceroy.  For  a  quarter  of  a 
century  his  name  was  associated  with  every  important 
transaction  affecting  the  Indians  of  the  Valley.  Early 
historians  establish  his  residence  at  Shamokin,  now  Sun- 
bury,  but  it  is  known  that  he  lived  also  eight  miles  up 
the  West  Branch.  One  historian  has  endeavored  to  prove 
this  Indian  town  to  have  been  on  the  west  bank;  others, 
that  it  was  at,  or  near,  the  mouth  of  Chillisquaque  Creek, 
on  the  east  bank;  while  still  other  authorities  place  it  at 
the  mouth  of  Limestone  Run,  now  in  the  very  heart  of 

Conrad  Weiser  is  authority  for  the  following  state- 
ment, taken  from  his  diary : — 

"Bishop  Spangenberg  and  his  party  passed  over  the  same 
route,  June  7,  1745,  and  after  passing  Chillisquaque  Creek, 
and  the  site  of  the  Indian  town  which  formerly  stood  there, 
they  next  came  to  the  place  where  Shikellimy  formerly  lived. 
but  which  was  then  deserted." 

The  "place"  to  which  they  next  came,  noted  in  this 
trip,  was  "Warriors  Camp,"  near  the  present  site  of  Wat- 
sontown.  In  1753  John,  son  of  Shikellimy,  had  a  hunting 
lodge  at  the  mouth  of  Warrior  Run,  and  resided  near  that 

French  and  Indian  War 

The  original  peaceful  intercourse  of  the  trader,  the 
interpreter,  and  the  missionary  with  the  Indians  of  Sha- 


mokin  and  the  adjacent  region  was  abruptly  terminated. 
The  latter's  dissatisfaction  with  treaties,  and  their  alliance 
with  the  French  against  the  settlers,  was  followed  by  the 
terrible  attacks  and  savageries  of  the  French  and  Indian 
war  lasting  from  1754  to  1760.  One  of  its  first  conse- 
quences to  the  pioneers  of  the  Valley  was  the  massacre 
at  Penns  Creek,  October  15,  1755^.  This,  and  other  at- 
tacks during  the  treacherous  and  almost  constant  warfare 
of  the  Indians  against  the  settlers,  caused  petitions  to  be 
sent  to  the  Provincial  Government  for  fortifications,  in 
which  protection  might  be  secured  from  the  assaults  of 
the  savages. 

These  petitions  were  for  a  long  time  disregarded ;  but 
as  one  massacre  followed  another,  the  Quakers  in  au- 
thority were  finally  brought  to  a  realization  of  the  urgent 
necessity  for  this  protection.  Fort  Augusta  was  there- 
fore built  in  1756,  and  equipped  with  quite  a  formidable 
armament^.  Other  forts  along  the  North  and  West 
Branches  were  also  ordered  to  be  built  and  manned,  and 
were  named  as  follows :  Fort  Jenkins,  at  a  point  midway 
between  the  present  site  of  Bloomsburg  and  Berwick; 
Fort  Wheeler,  along  the  banks  of  Fishing  Creek,  about 
three  miles  from  Bloomsburg ;  Fort  McClure,  on  the  bank 
at  Bloomsburg ;  Fort  Bostley,  at  the  forks  of  the  Chillis- 
quaque  at  Washingtonville ;  Fort  Montgomery,  some- 
times erroneously  called  Fort  Rice,  at  Montgomery's,  in 
Paradise  Valley,  about  five  miles  from  Milton ;  Fort  Free- 
land,  on  the  north  side  of  Warrior  Run  about  six  miles 
north  of  Milton;  Fort  Boone,  on  Muddy  Run,  one  mile 
above  Milton ;  Fort  Swartz,  on  the  east  bank  of  the  West 
Branch,  one  mile  above  Milton ;  Fort  Meinninger,  on  the 
opposite  bank,  at  White  Deer  Mills;  Fort  Brady,  at 
Muncy;  Fort  Muncy,  at  Halls  Station;  Fort  Antes,  oppo- 
site Jersey  Shore ;  and  Fort  Horn,  between  Pine  and  Mc- 

(1)  The  petition  to  the  Governor  following  the  massacre 
gives  the  number  of  "killed,  scalped  and  carried  away"  as  twenty- 
five.    The  settlement  was  at  the  mouth  of  the  creek.     [Ed.] 

(2)  Meginness  states  that  in  1758  "it  mounted  twelve  to  six- 
teen pieces  of  artillery,  ranging  from  six  to  twelve  pounders." 
"Otzinachson,"  rev.  ed.,  p.  307.     [Ed.] 

The  Connecticut  Invasion 

Hardly  had  Pennsylvania's  troubles  in  the  French 
and  Indian  war  ceased,  than  the  claims  of  the  Connecticut 
settlers  threatened   further  bloodshed. 

These  Connecticut  people  claimed  territory  as  far 
south  as  the  41st  degree  of  latitude,  which  is  just  below 
the  town  of  Milton.  Between  the  3d  and  7th  of  July, 
1772,  a  large  body  of  the  Yankees  had  come  down  from 
Wyoming,  and  reached  the  West  Branch  where  Milton 
now  stands.  They  called  the  place  Judea.  Thereupon 
Colonel  Plunkett^  summoned  the  Pennamites^  to  arms, 
marched  to  Milton,  and  drove  the  invaders  away.  They 
retreated  towards  the  Muncy  Valley,  and  made  another 
settlement,  where  the  borough  of  Muncy  is  now  located^. 

(1)  William  Plunkett,  by  profession  a  physician,  served  in 
the  French  Indian  war  as  lieutenant  and  surgeon  near  Carlisle. 
He  settled  near  Chillisquaque  Creek  on  land  granted  in  reward 
for  such  services,  about  1772,  and  in  the  same  year  was  appointed 
Justice.  Fearing  his  Irish  estates  would  be  forfeited  he  is  said 
to  have  remained  "neutral"  during  the  Revolution.  He  appears 
in  records  of  the  time  as  "Doctor,"  "Justice,"  and  "Colonel."    [Ed.] 

(2)  "Pennamites" — those  whose  claims  were  based  on 
grants  or  patents  derived  from  the  Penns.  The  Connecticut 
claimants  were  termed  "Yankees."  Historians  recognize  two  or 
three  "Yankee-Pennamite  Wars."     [Ed.] 

(3)  The  Battle  of  Judea:— "In  the  early  part  of  May,  1772, 
a  company  of  New  Englanders  proceeded  from  Wyoming  down 
the  Susquehanna  to  Fort  Augusta,  intending  to  journey  thence 
up  the  West  Branch  to  their  townships  of  Charleston  and  Judea. 
The  object  of  their  journey  becoming  known  to  the  authorities 
of  the  new  county  of  Northumberland,  the  latter  proceeded,  by 
force,  to  prevent  the  New  Englanders  from  continuing  their  jour- 
ney. In  the  melee  which  ensued  there  were  several  casualties 
and  some  taken  as  prisoners  and  detained  at  Fort  Augusta. 

Soon  as  those  who  escaped  from  the  Provincial  forces  had 
returned  to  Wyoming,  a  much  larger  company  was  immediately 
organized,  and  about  the  middle  of  June  they  set  out  for  the 
West  Branch. 

By  order  of  the  Northumberland  County  Court  early  in  July, 
1772,  the  posse  comitatus  was  raised  and  proceeding  up  the  West 
Branch  to  the  tract  of  land  occupied  by  Marcus  Huling  in  what 
is  now  the  very  center  of  Milton,  dispersed  the  Yankees  who 
were  collected  there.  Huling  was  the  agent  of  the  Susquehanna 
Company  on  the  West  Branch,  and  for  his  services  was  given 
one  quarter  share  of  the  Company's  land  which  was  on  Limestone 
Run,  where  it  empties  into  the  river. 

That  this  battle  actually  took  place,  and  at  the  time  stated 
is  evidenced  from  a  court  record,  found  in  Penna.  Archives,  Sec- 
ond series,  XVIII,  698,  which  is  from  the  account  of  Robert  King 

The  Connecticut  settlers  had  been  so  sure  of  their 
ground,  that  before  this  one  Zebulon  Butler^  had  issued 
a  proclamation,  and  distributed  it  through  Northumber- 
land County,  announcing  that  he  had  been  appointed  a 
justice  by  Connecticut  authorities.  This  had  been  met  by 
a  proclamation  from  Governor  Penn,  strictly  forbidding 
the  people  tO'  pay  any  attention  to  this  usurper. 

Yet  it  must  be  admitted  that  the  Connecticut  claim- 
ants were  not  without  local  support.  For  it  seems  that 
the  Vincents,  Freelands  and  other  settlers  from  New  Jer- 
sey who  came  to  the  West  Branch  Valley  about  a  year 
after  the  "Battle  of  Judea"  were  attracted  by  the  Con- 
necticut people  and  manifested  sympathy  towards  their 
claims.  They  themselves  had  settled  on  their  arrival  in 
that  part  of  the  County  included  within  the  limits  of  the 
Susquehanna  Company.  Freeland's  mill  was  built  short- 
ly after  his  arrival  and,  as  told  later,  his  house  was  stock- 
aded in  1778. 

The  armed  clash  of  1772  by  no  means  settled  the  dis- 
pute; and  the  continued  and  determined  efforts  of  the 
Connecticut  claimants  to  enter  and  to  settle  permanently 
along  the  West  Branch,  resulting  as  it  did  in  the  threat 
of  actual  armed  invasion,  so  terrified  the  earlier  Penn- 
sylvanians,  that  a  petition,  numerously  signed,  was  laid, 
December,  1773,  before  the  Board  of  Council,  then  meet- 
ing in  Philadelphia.  The  Council  considered  the  petition 
of  such  importance  that  it  was  laid  before  the  Assembly, 
accompanied  by  a  message  from  Governor  John  Penn^. 

The  Governor,  though  a  Quaker,  recommended  that 
the  invaders  be  repelled  by  force,  and  appealed  to  the 

and  is  in  part  as  follows:  "1772 — July  3.  To  myself  and'horse 
five  days,  viz:  from  3d  to  7th,  both  days  included,  collecting  the 
inhabitants  of  Northumberland  County  in  order  to  apprehend  a 
party  from  Wyoming  (then  Assembled  at  Marcus  Huling's  on 
the  West  Branch  of  Susquehanna  River),  by  order  of  Doc.  Wil- 
liam Plunket,  Esq.  £  1,  17  s.  6d."  (From  the  manuscript,  not  yet 
published,  "History  of  Fort  Augusta,"  by  Frederic  A.  God- 
charles.  The  authorities  are  the  Penna.  Archives  and  Harvey's 
"History  of  Wilkes-Barre.") 

(1)  Colonel  Butler,  whose  services  in  the  Revolution  and 
whose  narrow  escape  during  the  Wyoming  massacre  made  him 
one  of  the  best  known  of  Pennsylvania's  soldiers,  died  in  1795. 

(2)  Col.  Records,  vol.  X,  p.  117. 

magistrates  and  officials  of  Northumberland  "to  be  vigi- 
lant in  the  discharge  of  their  duty,  and  to  see  that  the  in- 
truders from  Wyoming  no  longer  impose  upon  the  Penn- 
sylvania settlers." 

On  September  21,  1775,  William  Maclay  advised  the 
Provincial  Council,  through  a  letter  addressed  to  the 
Secretary  of  the  Governor,  that  the  injunction  placed  on 
the  Connecticut  people  was  no  longer  binding.^  Also  that 
Vincent,  who  had  settled  just  above  Milton,  claimed  to  be 
a  magistrate,  and  was  preparing  to  bring  three  hundred 
colonists  from  Wyoming  tO'  the  West  Branch ;  that  cer- 
tain settlers  were  willing  to  be  enlisted  in  Zebulon  But- 
ler's regiment,  and  that  he  could  not  understand  why 
they  were  so  determined  to  possess  these  lands. 

In  the  same  month  it  ^vas  reported  that  an  armed 
force  had  arrived  at  Freeland's  Mills  consisting  of  three 
hundred  men,  supposed  to  be  part  of  Butler's  regiment. 
Judge  Plunkett  at  Sunbury  was  apprised  of  this,  and  a 
company  of  fifty  men  immediately  marched  from  Fort 
Augusta  to  "meet  and  demand  the  reason  of  this  intrusion 
and  hostile  appearance." 

The  size  of  this  force  seems  to  have  been  exaggerated. 
But  Colonel  Plunkett,  under  orders  from  the  Provincial 
Government,  detailed  a  strong  force  of  Northumberland 
militia,  and  marched  to  break  up  the  settlements  at 
Charleston  and  Judea  (Milton).  There  does  not  seem 
to  have  been  much  armed  resistance,  as  but  one  life  was 
lost,  and  few  Connecticut  people  wounded.  After  burn- 
ing the  buildings  and  collecting  what  property  they  could 
carry  away.  Colonel  Plunkett  returned  to  Sunbury  w^ith 
a  number  of  prisoners.  The  women  and  children  were 
sent  to  their  friends  at  Wyoming.  William  Judd  and 
Joseph  Sluman,  who  appear  to  have  l>een  leaders,  were 
sent  to  jail  at  Philadelphia. 

(1)  *  *  *  *  "The  Congress,  at  the  last  meeting,  ordered  the 
memorials  respecting  the  Connecticut  intrusion  to  lie  on  their 
table  to  the  next  meeting,  on  the  5th  of  September.  In  the  mean- 
time their  Delegates  were  directed  to  enjoin  a  peaceable  behavior 
on  their  people.  The  Sth  of  September  is  come  and  past  ;the  in- 
junction, therefore,  is  no  longer  binding,  according  to  their  mode 
of  reasoning."  *  *  *  * 


Three  months  earHer,  Fithian,  in  his  journal  written 

during  his  visit  to  the  West  Branch  Valley,  under  date 

of  July  14th,   1775,  describing  a  delightful  visit  to  the 

family  of  Captain  William  Piper,  on  Warrior  Run,  says : 

"The  people  here  are  all  cordial  and  inveterate  enemies  of 
the  Yankees,  who  are  settling  about  in  this  province  on  the 
land  in  dispute  between  Connecticut  and  Pennsylvania.  It 
is  said  they  are  intending  to  come  down  into  this  neighbor- 
hood and  fix  down  upon  the  unsettled  land,  which  exasperates 
the  people   generally." 

It  is  evident  that  these  early  settlers  were  between  the 
upper  and  the  nether  millstones,  the  fear  of  the  Conncti- 
cut  Settlers  swooping  down  and  usurping  their  lands  on 
the  one  hand^  and  the  constant  warfare  with  the  savas:es^ 


on  the  other.     Theirs  was  indeed  a  trying  experience ! 

The  Revolution 

Through  their  alliance  with  the  British  troops  after 
the  outbreak  of  the  Revolution^,  Indians  began  to  be  very 
offensive  in  1777,  and  during  the  latter  part  of  that  year, 
and  the  beginning  of  the  next,  murders  became  more  and 
more  frequent.  In  April  and  May,  1778,  large  parties  of 
Tories  and  Indians  infested  the  very  borders  of  the  set- 
tlements in  this  part  of  the  Province.  Life  and  property 
became  more  and  more  insecure.  Most  of  the  able-bodied 
men  were  in  the  Continental  army,  and  their  women  and 
children  were  unprotected. 

(1)  Mrs.  Murray  in  her  "Old  Tioga  Point  and  Early  Ath- 
ens" (1908)  points  out  that  the  last  of  the  Connecticut  claims  to 
be  settled  was  the  "Welles-Matthewson  case."  That  was  closed 
in  1827.     [Ed.] 

(2)  The  Indians  felt  that  they  had  just  grounds  for  revenge 
against  the  white  men.  In  1757,  Indians  told  the  Rev.  David 
Brainerd  that  "God  made  two  worlds,  one  for  the  white  men,  the 
other  for  the  Indians;  that  the  white  people  had  no  business  to 
come  into  the  Indian  country — and  that,  though  the  white  people 
made  some  pretense  of  instructing  them,  yet  they  had  no  design 
of  doing  good,  but  merely  to  put  money  into  their  own  pockets." 

(3)  Of  the  number  of  Indians  engaged  by  England  during 
the  Revolutionary  War,  there  were,  according  to  Campell,  12,960 
warriors,  1,580  of  whom  belonged  to  the  Six  Nations,  500  were 
Delawares,  300  Shawnese,  150  Monsej's  and  60  Mohicans.  Of 
scalps,  the  Senecas  alone,  400  warriors,  took  1,052  in  three  years, 
299  being  those  of  women  and  29  infants.  These  were  sent  to  the 
Governor  of  Canada,  to  be  sent  as  a  present  to  the  King  of  Eng- 


By  June,  the  danger  had  become  so  great  that  the  in- 
habitants were  seized  by  panic.  They  fled  to  the  forts 
for  protection.  All  the  inhabitants  of  the  Valley  below 
]\Iuncy  Hill  as  far  as  Chillisquacjue  Creek  were  assembled 
at  Freeland's  Fort,  Boone's  Fort  and  Fort  Augusta.  This, 
the  "Great  Runaway,"  left  the  country  practically  aban- 
doned. When  it  was  thought  possible,  small  bands  of 
men  ventured  cautiously  up  the  river,  and  into  the  woods 
to  secure  cattle,  horses  and  other  effects  that  had  been 
left  behind  in  the  hasty  flight  for  safety.  They  found 
small  groups  of  Indians  engaged  in  the  work  of  pillage 
and  destruction,  and  at  night  the  sky  was  reddened  by 
the  vivid  light  of  the  burning  cabins  and  barns. 

The  urgent  appeals  of  the  distressed  people  to  Con- 
gress were  not  entirely  in  vain.  Soldiers  were  sent  to  the 
devastated  county.  First  came  Colonel  Broadhead,  soon 
hurried  to  Fort  Muncy ;  General  Potter,  who  returned  to 
Penn's  Valley;  and  Colonel  Thomas  Hartley,  who  or- 
dered to  the  West  Branch  Valley,  arrived  in  August, 
1778,  and  immediately  took  steps  to  offer  strong  resist- 
ance in  the  event  of  further  attacks.  When  Colonel  Hart- 
ley, late  in  the  year  1 778,  was  ordered  to  another  field  of 
duty,  his  departure  was  a  matter  of  sincere  regret,  for 
his  success  in  fighting  the  Indians  had  done  much  tO'  re- 
store confidence  among  the  settlers.  His  withdrawal 
proved  to  be  a  disastrous  move  for  the  Valley. 

Six  years  before  this  time,  in  the  year  1772,  as  noted 
before,  in  my  comment,  on  the  Connecticut  invasion,  Jacob 
Freeland,  Samuel  Gould,  Peter  Vincent  and  his  son,  and 
Timothy  Williams,  with  their  families,  had  cut  their  way 
through  the  woods,  and  settled  along  Warrior  Run.  They 
came  from  Essex  County,  New  Jersey.  Jacob  Freeland 
brought  with  him  the  irons  for  a  grist  mill,  and  during 
1773  and  1774  he  built  a  mill  on  Warrior  Run,  about 
four  miles  back  from  the  river.  It  was  stockaded,  in  the 
fall  of  1778,  by  Freeland  and  his  neighbors,  and  en- 
closed his  large  two-story  house.  The  spring  of  water 
enclosed  is  still  used. 

The  first  mention  of  this  place  as  a  fort  is  in  a  letter 
of  Colonel  Samuel  Hunter,  written  from  Fort  Augusta, 
April  27,    1779,  addressed  to   "His   Excellency.   Joseph 


Reed,  Esqr.,  President  of  the  Supreme  Executive  Coun- 
cil," then  sitting  in  Philadelphia.     In  this  he  says : — 

"Yesterday,  there  was  another  party  of  indians,  about 
thirty  or  forty,  kill'd  and  took  seven  of  our  Militia,  that  was 
stationed  at  a  little  Fort  near  Muncy  Hill,  call'd  Fort  Free- 
land;  there  was  two  or  three  of  the  inhabitants  taken  pris- 
oners; among  the  latter  is  James  McKnight,  Esqr,  one  of 
our  Assemblymen;  the  same  day  a  party  of  thirteen  of  the 
inhabitants  that  went  to  hunt  their  Horses,  about  four  or  five 
miles  from  Fort  Muncy  was  fired  upon  by  a  large  party  of 
Indians,  and  all  taken  or  killed  Except  one  man.  Captain 
Walker  of  the  Continental  troops,  who  commands  at  that 
post,  turned  out  with  thirty  four  men  to  the  place  he  heard 
the  fireing,  and  found  four  men  kill'd  and  scalped,  and  sup- 
poses they  Captured  ye  Remainder." 

This  massacre  was  alsO'  reported  to  the  Council  by 

William  Maclay,  on  the  same  date.     He  says : — 

"The  whole  Force  of  the  Six  Nations  seems  to  be  poured 
down  upon  Us.  How  long  we  will  be  able  to  bear  up  under 
such  complicated  and  Severe  attacks,   God  only  knows." 

In  a  long-  letter  of  instructions  sent  by  President  Reed 

to  Colonel  Samuel  Hunter,  under  date  of  June  2d,  1779, 

he  says : — 

"You  may  always  rely  upon  our  utmost  attention  to  every- 
thing which  concerns  your  safety  and  hope  you  will  diffuse 
a  spirit  of  Confidence  thro  the  inhabitants  of  the  county  of 
which  they  will  soon  see  the  beneficent  consequences." 

With  General  John  Sullivan  placed  in  command  of 
Continental  troops  sent  to  protect  the  settlers  along  the 
North  and  West  Branches,  and  General  Potter  given  com- 
mand of  troops  under  him,  the  settlers  were  more  com- 
fortable and  their  confidence  strengthened. 

Lt.-Colonel  Adam  Hubley,  of  the  nth  Regiment  of 
the  Pennsylvania  Line,  in  an  official  communication  sent 
to  President  Reed,  dated  Sunbury,  June  21st,  1779,  be- 
gan with  this  paragraph : — 

"I  take  the  liberty  of  acquainting  you  of  my  arrival  at  this 
post,  at  present  every  thing  about  this  seems  quiet — the 
refugees  here  talk  of  returning  again  to  their  farms.  I'm  in 
hopes  they  will  be  able  peaceably  to  enjoy  them." 

It  seems  that  this  peaceable  occupation  of  their  farms 
was  not  to  be  enjoyed.  The  Indians  becoming  bolder  on 
account  of  their  previous  successes,  pushed  down  the  Val- 
ley, crossed  Muncy  Hills  and  on  June  21st,  the  very  date 
of  Hubley's  letter,  surprised  several  men  at  work  in  a 


cornfield  near  Fort  Freeland.  A  son  of  Jacob  Freeland 
and  Isaac  Vincent  were  killed,  and  Michael  Freeland  and 
Benjamin  Vincent  were  taken  prisoners. 

Under  date  of  June  26th,  1779,  Colonel  Hunter  wrote 
to  President  Reed,  apologizing  for  not  being  able  to  af- 
ford General  Sullivan  more  assistance  in  the  transporta- 
tion and  guarding  of  stores  en  route  to  Wyoming,  and 
says : — 

"All  the  Militia  I  could  Collect  Exclusive  of  what  was  at 
Fort  freeland  &  General  Potter's,  was  about  thirty,  which  I 
ordered  to  stay  at  Sunburry  to  Guard  the  Stores  there,  until 
the  Continental  troops  Returned  from  Wyoming." 

A  postscript  to  this  letter  was : — 

"I  Reed  a  letter  from  Major  General  Sullivan  inclosing  an 
Extract  of  your  letter  dated  ye  3d  Inst."  (in  v/hich  President 
Reed  wrote  of  the  qualifications  and  experience  of  General 
Potter  in  the  work  on  the  Frontiers)  "to  order  up  the  Range- 
ing  Company  Raised  for  the  Defence  of  this  County  to  Wy- 
oming, as  he  finds  his  numbers  Rather  short  of  what  he  Ex- 
pected, Col.  Hubley's  Regiment  marches  Immediately  which 
leaves  Fort  Muncy  and  Fort  Jenkins  Vacant  at  this  Critical 
time  when  its  out  of  my  Power  to  man  them  the  time  of 
Harvest  with  the  militia  of  this  County." 

This  proves  beyond  the  semblance  of  a  doubt  that 
Fort    Freeland    was   at   that   time   considered    a   strong 
strategic  post,  for  it,  and  Fort  Boone,  became  the  only 
places   garrisoned    by    Continental    soldiers    above    Fort 
Augusta  on  the  West  Branch.     That  the  removal  of  the 
troops  from  above  Fort  Freeland  was  a  mistake  is  made 
manifest  by  the  letter  of  Colonel  Hunter  to  Colonel  Mat- 
thew Smith,  written  from  Fort  Augusta,  23d  July,  1779. 
"Dear  Sir,  we  have  Really  Distressing  times  at  present  in 
this  County  Occasioned  by  the  late  Depredations  committed 
by  the   Savages   on  our   Defenceless    Frontiers,    Immediately 
after  the  Evacuation  of  Fort  Muncy,  the  Indians  began  their 
cruel  murders  again — the  3d   Inst  they  killed  three   men,   & 
took    two    Prisoners    at    Lycoming — the    eighth    Inst.,    they 
burned   the   Widdow    Smiths    Mills    &   killed   one    man,    17th 
Inst,  they  killd  two  men,  and  took  three  Prisoners  from  Fort 
Brady,   the   same  day  they   Burned   Starrets   Mills   &   all   the 
Princeable  Houses   in  Muncy  Township,  the  20th   Inst,   they 
killed  three  men  at  Freelands  Fort,  and  took  two  Prisoners, 
them  sticking  so  close  to  this   County  after  the  Continental! 
troops  has  marched  to  Wyoming  has  intimidated  the  people 
so  much   that  they  are   Realy  on  the   Eve   of  deserting  the 
County   intirely   as    there   is    no    Prospect   of   any   assistance, 
that  the   People  on  the   Frontiers    Could  get  their   Harvists 
put  up.     I  thought  the  army  marching   Even   to   Wyoming 


would  Draw  the  attention  of  the  Savages  from  us,  but  I 
think  it  never  was  worse  than  at  present,  and  without  some 
Reinforcements  is  sent  to  this  County  soon  from  some  of 
our  neighbouring  Countys  its  not  probable  the  little  Forts 
we  have  at  Freelands  and  Boons  can  stand  long,  suppose  I 
never  see  the  People  of  this  County  behave  more  spirited 
than  they  do  at  present,  suppose  Reduced  to  a  few,  I  have 
Just  arrived  after  being  on  a  Scout  along  Muncy  Hill  &  we 
made  a  great  Discovery  where  the  Savages  had  been  along 
the  Frontiers  &  taken  off  a  number  of  Horses.  We  are 
scarce  of  ammunition  Especially  Lead  there  is  none." 

Samuel  Brady,  a  brother  of  Captain  John  Brady,  and 
himself  one  of  the  bravest  and  most  persistent  of  those 
who  actually  drove  the  red-skin  from  this  Valley,  was 
present  at  Fort  Muncy  when  his  brother,  Captain  John, 
was  killed  in  ambuscade;  and  it  was  he  who  rushed  out, 
followed  by  some  of  the  garrison,  and  bore  his  brother 
into  the  fort.  He  pressed  the  pursuit  of  the  Indians  with 
undeviating  energy,  following  some  of  them  as  far  as 
Fort  Bedford.  He  and  his  men  returned  afterwards  to 
Fort  Freeland. 

During  these  campaigns  Brady  had  a  close  companion, 
a  little  Irishman  named  Dougherty.  On  one  occasion 
at  Fort  Freeland,  the  main  body  of  the  garrison  had 
crossed  the  West  Branch  on  a  scouting  expedition,  leav- 
ing Captain  Brady  and  Dougherty  as  the  only  protectors 
of  the  women  and  children  in  the  fort.  A  scouting  party 
of  British  and  Indian  allies  suddenly  appeared  and  de- 
manded the  surrender  of  the  fort.  Brady  refused,  and 
he  and  Dougherty  immediately  opened  a  defensive  fire 
upon  their  enemies,  while  the  women  loaded  their  rifles. 
After  a  sharp  fight,  during  which  more  than  one  of  the 
invaders  was  stretched  out  on  the  ground,  the  temporarily 
absent  garrison  returned,  crossed  the  river  and  raised  the 

But  a  short  time  before  the  destruction  of  the  fort, 
Mrs.  McKnight  and  Mrs.  Durham,  who  was  afterwards 
scalped  by  the  Indians,  started  on  a  trip  from  Fort  Free- 
land  to  Northumberland  on  horseback,  their  husbands 
making  the  journey  afoot.  Each  woman  carried  a  small 
child  in  her  arms.  Near  the  mouth  of  Warrior  Run, 
they  were  fired  upon  by  a  party  of  Indians,  and  Mrs.  Mc- 
Knight's  horse  suddenly  wheeled  about  and  galloped  back 


to  the  fort.  As  the  horse  turned,  her  child  slipped  from 
her  arms,  but  she  grabbed  it  by  the  foot,  and  held  it  in 
this  position  until  the  frightened  animal  brought  them 
safely  to  the  stockade. 

The  sagacity  of  these  early  frontiersmen  revealed  to 
them  how  grave  the  situation  was,  for  Colonel  Hunter's 
letter  of  the  23rd  had  not  been  delivered  before  the  most 
serious  trouble  occurred.  A  letter  from  William  Maclay, 
dated  Paxton,  July  26th,  1779,  says: — 

"I  am  just  returned  from  Sunbury — I  must  say  a  Word  or 
Two  of  the  deplorable  Situation  of  Northumberland  County; 
Stript  of  the  whole  of  the  Standing  Army,  and  without  a 
single  Man  save  the  Militia  of  the  County  and  14  men  under 
the  Command  of  a  Capt.  Kamplin,  and  almost  every  Young 
Man  on  the  Frontier  engaged  in  the  Boat  Service;  they  suf- 
fer more  than  ever,  from  the  Savage  Depredations  of  an 
horrid  Enemy;  everything  above  Muncy  Hill  is  abandoned; 
a  large  Body  of  about  forty  Savages  had  penetrated  as  far  as 
Freeland's  Mills;  Freeland  and  Sundry  others  have  fallen 
Victims  to  them;  They  were  still  hovering  about  the  Settle- 
ment when  I  came  away;  In  short  nothing  seems  wanting  on 
their  part  But  a  proper  degree  of  Spirit  (and  upon  some  oc- 
casions they  have  manifested  enough  of  it)  for  to  make  one 
bold  push  for  Sunbury  and  destroy  the  Magazine  which  is 
now  collecting  there  for  the  Support  of  the  Army." 

Alas,  how  accurately  these  soldiers  reported  the  dis- 
tressed situation !  Only  two  days  later  the  tinal  tragedy 
occurred.  Colonel  McDonald  with  British  troops  and  In- 
dians moved  to  the  attack^.  When  the  battle  for  posses- 
sion of  the  fort  began,  the  firing  could  be  heard  at  Fort 
Boone,  about  four  miles  south.  Captain  Hawkins  Boone, 
with  the  garrison,  consisting  of  a  party  of  thirty-two  as 
brave  men  as  ever  fired  a  gim,  rushed  to  the  relief  of  the 
unfortunate  defenders  of  Fort  Freeland^. 

But  in  a  few  terrible  hours  the  most  advanced  haven- 
of  refuge  for  the  frontier  settlers  in  the  West  Branch 
Valley  was  a  mass  of  ruins :  its  defenders  either  victims 
of  the  tomahawk  or  prisoners  of  war :  the  women  and 
children  objects  of  charity  in  the  stronger  fortification 
of  Fort  Augaista.     That  the  defenders  of  Fort  Freeland 

(1)  Wolfinger,  in  Egle's,  "History  of  Penna.,"  says,  200  Brit- 
ish and  300  Indians;  Meginness,  in  "Otzinachson,"  says,  100  Brit- 
ish and  200  Indians.     [Ed.] 

(2)  The  number  of  effective  defenders  in  Fort  Freeland  is 
given  as  but  21.     [Ed.] 


did  their  utmost  in  this  trying  hour  is  beyond  the  semb- 
lance of  a  doubt,  and  the  resistance  they  offered  was  so 
stubborn  that  the  articles  of  surrender  were  not  accepted 
until  all  their  ammunition  was  expended  and  no  further 
relief  believed  possible. 

A  scout,  by  the  name  of  McMahon,  who  knew  the  lay 
of  the  land,  was  sent  in  advance  of  Boone's  party.  He 
reached  the  fort  at  the  moment  of  its  capitulation,  but, 
not  knowing  this,  jumped  across  Warrior  Run  and  shook 
hands  with  some  of  the  men  coming  out  of  the  fort,  who 
told  him  they  were  prisoners  of  war.  Without  a  mo- 
ment's hesitation,  McMahon  turned,  leaped  back  across 
the  Run,  and  dashed  towards  Fort  Boone.  In  his  escape 
he  saw  the  earth  torn  up  on  either  side  of  him  by  the  bul- 
lets fired  by  the  victorious  British  and  Indians,  but  none 
hit  him. 

As  soon  as  the  fort  capitulated,  the  Indians  took  pos- 
session of  it,  and  their  squaws  became  mischievous  and 
destructive.  They  ripped  open  the  feather  beds,  empty- 
ing the  contents  in  a  heap  and  burning  them,  while  they 
danced  about  with  fiendish  glee.  They  packed  the  ticks 
with  clothes  and  goods,  destroying  whatever  they  could 
not  carry  away.  Having  completed  the  pillage  of  the 
fort,  both  Indians  and  Tories  gathered  together  all  the 
provisions  they  could  find,  and  proceeded  tO'  the  creek, 
where  they  made  preparations  for  a  feast.  The  sc[uaws 
with  their  plunder  rode  away  on  the  side  saddles  they 
had  stolen,  in  mockery  of  the  white  women^ 

(1)  The  Indians  engaged  in  this  campaign  were  under  com- 
mand of  Hiokatoo,  commonly  called  Gardow,  the  second  husband 
of  Mary  Jemison,  "the  white  woman  of  the  Genesee."  He  was  a 
noted  Seneca  chief  and  most  cruel  and  terrible  as  a  warrior. 

Hiokatoo  was  born  in  one  of  the  tribes  of  the  Six  Nations  that 
inhabited  the  banks  of  the  Susquehanna.  He  was  own  brother 
to  Farmer's  Brother,  a  chief  who  has  been  justly  celebrated  for 
his  worth. 

In  1731  he  was  appointed  a  runner,  to  assist  in  collecting  an 
army  to  go  against  the  Cotawpes,  Cherokees  and  other  southern 
Indians.  He  was  present  when  the  northern  Indians  rushed  upon 
the  ambuscade  and  murdered  1,200  of  their  southern  enemies. 

During  the  French  War  he  was-  in  every  battle  that  was 
fought   on   the    Susquehanna   and    Ohio    Rivers.      At    Braddock's 


The  savages  did  not,  however,  enjoy  their  feast  in 
quiet,  for  Boone's  party  soon  arrived  on  the  opposite  bank 
of  the  creek,  within  less  than  one  hundred  yards  of  where 
the  enemy  was  feasting.  Not  knowing  that  the  fort  had 
been  surrendered,  and  the  unequal  struggle  terminated, 
the  men  from  Fort  Boone  fired  on  tlie  British  and  In- 
dians. At  least  thirty  of  the  savages  fell  dead  at  the  first 
volley^.  It  was  a  brief  triumph,  for  the  others  quickly  ral- 
lied and  surrounded  the  Continentals,  killing  thirteen  men, 
among  the  slain  being  Captain  Boone  himself.  When 
his  party  thus  found  itself  caught  in  an  ambuscade,  word 
was  passed  among  them  for  each  to  save  himself,  and 
realizing  the  hopelessness  of  further  resistance,  with  odds 
nearly  ten  to  one,  the  fight  was  given  up,  while  each  did 
his  best  to  escape^. 

These  brave  fellows  were  closely  hunted  by  the 
savages,  who  feared  them  and  their  possible  reprisals, 
and  several  made  narrow  escapes.  One  William  Reed 
started  to  nm,  but  a  hot  pursuit  was  made  by  the  enemy. 
He  was  a  tall,  slender  fellow,  and  being  a  swift  rimner 
outstripped  his  pursuers,  until  he  tripped  over  a  tree  root, 
and  fell,  losing  his  gun,  the  barrel  of  which  he  found 
years  later,  with  the  stock  rotted  away.  When  Reed 
after  regaining  his  feet  finally  reached  a  place  of  safety, 
it  was  found  that  a  bullet  had  grazed  his  breast,  cutting 
the  skin  as  if  a  hot  iron  had  branded  him.  This  scar  was 
visible  until  his  death.    Another  shot  had  pierced  his  hat. 

defeat  he  took  two  white  prisoners  and  burnt  them  alive  in  a  fire 
of  his  own  kindling, 

Mary  Jemison,  in  writing  of  her  husband's  part  in  the  battle 
at  Fort  Freeland  says:  "After  the  fort  was  surrendered,  the 
women  and  children  were  sent  under  an  escort  to  the  next  fort 
below,  and  the  men  and  boys  taken  off  by  a  party  of  British  to 
the  general  Indian  encampment.  As  soon  as  the  fort  had  capitu- 
lated and  the  firing  had  ceased.  Hiokatoo  with  the  help  of  a  few- 
Indians  tomahawked  every  wounded  American  while  earnestly 
begging  with  uplifted  hands  for  quarters."  Truly  a  terrible  rec- 
ord to  give  her  husband.  His  health  was  unusually  good  until 
attacked  with  consumption  four  years  before  his  death  which  oc- 
curred in  the  month  of  November,  1811,  at  the  advanced  age  of 
103  j^ears. 

(1)  So  some  accounts.  John  Buyers  (in  Penna.  Archives, 
vol.  vii,  p.  592)  says  8  or  10.     His  letter  is  quoted  below.     [Ed.] 

(2)  The  account  in  Egle's  "Hist,  of  Penna.,"  lacks  much  in 
accuracy, —  [Ed,] 


and  his  shirt  was  shot  in  several  places, — truly  a  miracu- 
lous escape !  He  was  one  of  the  few  survivors  who  lived 
many  years  after  the  occurrence,  and  he  could  relate  many 
incidents  of  that  bloody  battle. 

The  noise  of  the  battle  was  heard  also  by  John  Mont- 
gomery, living  at  "Paradise."  He  mounted  two  of  his 
young  sons  on  horses  and  sent  them  to  the  top  of  the  hill 
to  "learn  the  cause  of  the  firing."  On  arriving  at  the 
brow  of  the  hill,  overlooking  the  creek,  they  discovered 
the  fort  to  be  burning  and  a  fight  raging  in  the  woods  be- 
low them.  They  returned  and  reported  to  their  father, 
who  hurriedly  loaded  up  his  family  in  a  wagon,  with  such 
provisions  and  clothing  as  they  could  carry,  and  drove 
across  the  country  to  the  cabin  of  William  Davis,  on 
Limestone  Run.  Davis  after  learning  what  was  going 
on,  gathered  up  his  family  also  and  joined  the  Mont- 
gomerys  in  their  flight  to  Fort  Augusta.  The  Indians  and 
Tories  burned  Montgomery's  house  and  destroyed  his 
growing  crops.  Mr.  Montgomery  took  his  family  to  Pax- 
tang,  where  they  remained  until  the  close  of  the  war, 
when  he  returned  to  his  old  home  at  the  spring. 

Colonel  Samuel   Hunter  wrote  to  Colonel   Matthew 

Smith,  July  28th : — 

"This  Day,  about  twelve  o'clock,  an  Express  arrived  from 
Capt.  Boon's  mill,  informing  us  that  Freeland's  Fort  was 
surrounded  by  a  party  of  Indians,  and  Immediately  after 
that  another  Express  came,  informing  that  it  was  Burned 
and  all  the  Garrison  Either  killed  or  taken  prisoners;  the 
party  that  went  from  Boon's  see  a  Number  of  Indians  & 
some  Red  Coats  walking  Round  the  Fort  (or  where  it  had 
been)  after  that  there  was  a  fireing  heard  off  towards  Chil- 
lisquake,  which  makes  us  believe  that  the  Savages  is  nu- 
merous, and  partys  is  going  off  from  this  Town  and  North- 
umbd  to  ye  Relief  of  the  Garrison  at  Boon's,  as  there  is  a 
number  of  Women  and  Children;  there  was  at  Freeland's 
Fort  fifty  Women  and  Children,  and  about  thirty  men  and 
God  knows  what  is  become  of  them;  by  this  you  may  know 
our  Distress'd  Situation  at  this  present  time.  General  Sul- 
livan would  send  us  no  Assistance,  and  our  Neighboring 
Countys  has  lost  the  Virtue  they  were  once  Possessed  of,  or 
otherwise  we  would  had  some  Relief  before  this  time;  this 
I  write  in  a  Confused  manner,  as  I  am  Just  marching  of  up 
the  West  Branch,  with  the  party  we  have  Collected.  Rouse 
ye  inhabitants  there  or  we  are  all  Ruined  here." 


This  letter  was  dispatched  by  Doctor  Francis  AHson, 
Jr.,  Vho  on  the  same  day  wrote  to  President  Reed,  say- 
ing :— 

"Fort  Freeland,  the  most  advanced  Post  on  the  frontiers 
of  the  west  branch,  had  on  Wednesday  last  three  of  the  Gar- 
rison killed  &  scalped  (one  only  shot)  within  sixty  Yards  of 
the  fort,  and  two  made  prisoners;  their  Number  of  Indians 
appeared  to  be  upwards  of  thirty  in  the  open  View  of  the 
Garrison.  Relief  was  sent  immediately  from  Boon's  Fort 
and  the  two  Towns,  &  additional  force  was  left  behind  to  ye 
assistance,  notwithstanding  which  they  attacked  them  this 
morning,  &  by  Intelligence  received  from  persons  of  credit, 
sent  out  as  spies,  they  had  surrounded  the  fort — The  Forts 
and  Barns  in  Ashes,  the  mill  still  standing,  &  and  the  In- 
dians appeared  very  numerous,  among  whom  were  some  Red 
Coats,  supposed  to  be  Regulars — that  thirty-four  men  had 
turned  out  from  Boon's  Fort,  to  relieve  Freeland's  Fort,  of 
whom  there  is  not  the  least  intelligence.  The  Garrison  of 
Freeland  F.  consisted  of  thirty-two  men,  fourteen  of  whom 
were  nine  months  men.  We  have  just  heard  ye  Capt  Boon 
is  killed." 

Colonel  Hunter  the  same  day  says : — 

"Yesterday  Morning,  Early,  there  was  a  party  of  Indians 
&  Regular  Troops  atacted  Fort  Freeland;  the  Fort  and 
Houses  adjacent  set  on  fire.  Capt  Boon  and  his  party  fired 
briskly  on  ye  Enemy,  but  was  soon  surrounded  by  a  large 
party  of  Indians;  there  was  thirteen  killd  of  our  People  and 
Capt  Boon  himself  among  the  Slain.  The  Regular  Officer 
that  Commanded  was  the  name  of  McDonald;  he  let  the 
Women  and  Children  go  after  haveing  them  a  Considerable 
time  in  Custoday.  The  Town  of  Northumberland  was  the 
Frontier  last  night,  and  I  am  afraid  Sunbury  will  be  this 
night.  There  was  about  three  Hundred  of  ye  Enimy,  &  the 
one  third  of  them  was  white  men,  as  the  Prisoners  informs 
us,  that  made  their  Escape.     It  must  be  Butler's  party." 

John  Buyers,  writing  to  William  Maclay  the  same 
day  confirms  Colonel  Hunter's  statements  when  he 
says : — 

"Freelands  fort  was  attackted  by  Not  less  than  300  british 
troops  &  Indians  they  acted  on  the  defensive  as  long  as  they 
could   well  but  found   it   impractable   to  hold  out  any   longer 

(1)  Dr.  Francis  Alison,  Jr.,  was  Senior  Surgeon  of  He  ,- 
pitals  Middle  Department  during  the  Revolution.  He  vv'as  sent  to 
Sunbury  May,  1779,  to  erect  hospitals  for  the  reception  of  the 
sick  and  wounded  of  General  Sullivan's  army.  Just  prior  to  en- 
tering the  hospital  service.  Dr.  Alison  was  commissioned  surgeon, 
}-2th  Regiment,  Pennsylvania  Line.  He  was  a  son  of  Rev.  Francis 
Alison,  D.D.,  Vice  Provost,  University  of  Pennsylvania.  He  was 
born  in  Chester  County  March  28,  1751,  and  died  in  Chester 
County,  May  11,  1813. 


after  the  Eneymay  had  sent  in  three  flags  desiring  them  to 
surrender  the  Last  Mentioning  if  they  did  not  they  would 
put  them  to  the  sword  every  one,  the  officer  Who  com- 
manded the  garison  Capitulated  on  these  terms,  viz.,  that  the 
men  should  be  prisoners  of  warr,  the  women  &  Children  were 
to  down  to  the  toune  Nmd  &  Sunbury  unmolested,  the  whole 
killed  in  the  fort  was  four  men,  Capt.  boon  who  went  out  for 
their  Relief  fell  in  with  the  Enemy  Capt.  Kompeton  who  ob- 
served the  first  Indian  on  guard  shot  him  dead  on  the  Spot 
then  a  party  ralyed  out  of  the  mill  and  defated  bon's  Com- 
pany, killed  boon,  Capt.  doharty,  Capt.  hamilton  &  all  the 
Rest  or  took  of  the  party  only  13  escaped  Northud  is  now 
the  frunteer.  Wee  do  not  find  that  there  was  more  than 
eight  or  ten  of  the  Enemy  killed." 

Another  letter  written  the  same  day  by  Francis  Ali- 
son, Jr.,  to  Colonel  Joshua  Elder,  Lt.of  Lancaster  Coun- 
ty, says : — 

"Sr,  Since  mine  of  the  28th  we  have  received  particular 
Instructions  from  Ft.  Freeland,  by  women  who  had  been  in 
the  Fort — They  say  the  garrison  Surrendered  after  making 
a  noble  but  short  resistance,  &  and  after  being  thrice  sum- 
moned; they  Capitulated  in  form  the  Copy  of  it  has  not  yet 
come  to  hand.  Of  the  Garrison  four  were  killed,  &  thir- 
teen Scalpes  were  brought  into  the  fort  in  a  Pocket  Handker- 
chief amongst  whome  were  Capt.  Boone  &  Dougherty's  sup- 
posed to  belong  to  a  party  from  Boones  Fort  wch  attacked 
the  British,  Indians  &c.,  and  even  got  in  among  the  people 
who  were  prisoners  with  them,  but  were  obliged  to  fly  on 
acct  of  superiority  of  numbers,  13  or  14  of  ye  party  have 
come  in;  they  and  the  women  of  F.  F.  estimate  the  number 
of  the  Enemy  at  between  3  &  4  hundred,  one  third  of  whom 
are  Regular  Troops.  Boones  F.,  is  evacuated  &  Northum- 
berland Town  is  already  the  Frontier — Hurry  if  possible  all 
the  assistance  possible  with  utmost  haste,  or  else  the  Conse- 
quences on  our  side  will  be  dreadful." 

Willliam  Maclay  writes  to  Council  from  Paxton, 
July  30th,  1779.  "The  worst  that  we  can  fear  for  North- 
umberland County  is  like  to  happen."  He  then  describes 
the  attack,  and  concludes  his  letter : — 

"The  Situation  of  Northumberland  County,  beyond  de- 
scription distressing,  not  a  single  Inhabitant  north  of  North- 
umberland Town — These  facts  ascertained  by  Letters  from 
Col.  Hunter,  Doctr.  Alison  and  others  by  espress  this  mo- 
ment arrived  No  Expectation  of  Relief  from  Gen.  Sullivan. 
I  need  not  ask  you  what  is  to  be  done.  Help  Help;  or  the 
Towns  of  Sunburj'  and  Northumberland  must  fall;  our  whole 
Frontier  laid  open,  and  the  Communication  with  Gen.  Sul- 
livan's army  is  cut  ofif." 

Major  General  Sullivan  was  promptly  advised  of  the 
fate  of  the  garrison  at  Fort  Freeland,  for  on  July  30th  he 


wrote  to  Colonel  Hunter  from  his  headquarters  at  Wy- 
oming : — 

"I  rece'd  this  Day  the  Disagreeable  inteligence  of  the  loss 
of  Fort  Freeland,  your  situation  in  Consequence  must  be  un- 
happy, I  feel  for  you  and  could  wish  to  assist  you,  but  the 
good  of  the  service  will  not  admit  of  it — Nothing  can  so 
Effectually  draw  the  indians  out  of  your  Country,  as  carry- 
ing the  War  into  theirs.  Tomorrow  morning  I  shall  march 
with  the  Whole  Army  for  Tioga." 

Truly  not  much  consolation  for  Colonel  Hunter  and 
the  distressed  and  suffering  settlers.  Moreover  Colonel 
Matthew  Smith  did  not  place  much  faith  in  General  Sul- 
livan. In  a  letter  dated  July  30,  he  says  he  knew  nothing 
would  be  done ; — "indeed  the  General  seems  to  have  had 
it  in  View  from  his  first  Arrival  at  Wyoming  to  have  the 
County  Reduced  to  what  it  now  is." 

William  Maclay,  in  a  second  letter  written  to  Council 

on  July  30th,  says  : — 

"The  Distress  of  the  Flying  Inhabitants  great  beyond  De- 
scription. The  Design  of  the  Enemy  supposed  to  be  the 
Possession  of  the  Towns  of  Sunbury  and  Northumberland, 
and  of  the  Stores  to  be  found  there — and  of  Course  cutting 
the  Communication  with  Gen.  Sullivan's  army.  It  is  even 
said  That  another  Body  of  the  Enemy  are  following  Mc- 

In  a  third  letter  to  Council,  all  written  the  same  day, 
he  inclosed  letters  from  Colonel  Hunter  and  others,  and 
adds : — 

"I  will  go  up  tomorrow  to  Carlisle  and  endeavour  to  pre- 
vail on  the  artificers  who  are  embodied  at  that  place  to  march 
immediately  to  Sunbury.  It  is  likely  I  may  be  refused.  Sev- 
eral Volunteers  have  promised  to  march  for  Sunbury." 

When  you  rememter  that  William  Maclay  was  one 
of  the  really  strong  characters  of  that  day,  and  one  of  the 
first  United  States  Senators  from  Pennsylvania,  these 
letters  of  his  clearly  show  that  the  situation  in  Northum- 
berland County  was  most  serious,  and  that  the  attack  on 
Fort  Freeland  was  a  definitely  planned  manaeuvre  of  the 
British  army,  with  a  definite  object,  and  not  merely  a 
casual  Indian  incursion  against  defenseless  settlers.  This 
attack,  with  its  consequent  heavy  toll  of  life  and  prison- 
ers, and  its  importance  at  that  critical  period  of  the  Revo- 
lution, should  therefore  have  a  more  conspicuous  place 


than  has  been  given  it  in  the  history  of  our  Common- 
wealth during  those  early  days. 

Colonel  Smith  wrote  to  President  Reed,  from  Pax- 
tang,  July  31st,  I779-'— 

"For  my  Part,  I  think  the  Distresses  of  Northumberland 
County  People  Equal,  if  not  Superior  to  anything  that  has 
happend  to  any  Part  of  the  Continent  Since  the  Commence- 
ment of  the  Present  War." 

He  referred  to  letters  from  many  persons  whose  word 

could  be  relied  upon,  then  added : — 

"The  Accts  this  Moment  is,  the  Town  of  Northumberland 
is  Evacuated;  if  so,  then  Sunbury  will  soon  follow  the  Ex- 
ample, and  the  Same  frontier  will  be  where  it  was  twenty 
years  Past." 

He  then  wrote  of  a  meeting  called  at  Paxtang,  where 
committees  were  appointed  to  relieve  this  distress  and  re- 
cruit volunteers ;  told  of  prominent  men  and  officers  inter- 
ested in  the  meetings,  and  added  : — 

"No  inconsiderable  Number  attendd,  and  Proposd  a  Scheme 
for  Volontiers  to  turn  out  Iinmediately  for  the  Relief  of  the 
Distressd  People.  We  have  fixed  Sunday  Morning,  Eight 
O'clock,  to  march,  when,  I  Doubt  not,  at  least  fifty  Men 
will   Go  that  way." 

Colonel  Smith  commanded  the  relief  expedition  which 
arrived  at  Sunbury  August  3rd.  In  reporting  this  move- 
ment, he  says : — 

"I  have  arrivd  at  Sunbury,  with  Sixty  Paxtang  Boys,  the 
neighboring  Townships  turns  out  a  Number  of  Volantiers, 
Cumberland  County  will  give  a  Considerable  Assistance,  to- 
morrow at  12  o'clock  is  fixt  for  the  time  of  March,  Provisions 
is  Scarce,  But  we  intend  to  follow  the  Savages,  we  hope  to 
Come  at  them,  as  they  Number  of  Cattle,  is  Great,  they  have 
taken,  from  the  Coutrey  &  must  make  a  Slow  Progress  on 
their  Return  home — I  hope  to  See  them  on  their  Return  & 
Doubt  not  if  we  Do,  to  Give  a  Good  Acct.  I  inclose  a  Copy 
of  the  Capitulation  at  Fort  Freeland,  the  Captn  McDonald 
of  the  Rangers,  is  formerly  a  Sergeant  in  Col.  Montgomery's 
Regt  of  Highlanders,  his  humanity  has  Appeard  in  this  one 
Instance — Perhaps  the  first  in  this  war,  fifty  two  Women  & 
Children  Came  safe  to  this  place,  being  the  Number  Taken 
— four  old  Men  also  was  Admitted  to  Come  Back,  the  Enemy 
Supposd  them  not  fit  to  March  to  Niagara,  inclosd  is  a  list 
of  the  Number  of  Capt  Boon's  party  killd,  also  the  names  of 
the  Persons  belonging  to  the  Garrison,  this  Acct  I  Believe 
is  the  Fact  as  the  party  out  yesterday  have  Buryd  the  Dead, 
Gave  me  the  List,  the  Distress  of  the  people  here  is  Great — 
you  may  have  some  Conception,  but  Scarcely  Can  be  told — 


this  town  (Sunbury)  now  Composes  Northumberland  County, 
the  Enemy  have  Burnt,  Everywhere  they  have  Been,  houses, 
Barnes,  Rice  &  Wheat,  in  the  fields,  stocks  of  hay,  &c;  is 
all  Consumd — Such  Devastation  I  have  not  yet  Seen." 

This  is  the  testimony  of  a  seasoned  soldier,  one  who 
had  suffered  extremities  in  the  French  and  Indian  war, 
who  had  been  held  for  a  time  a  prisoner  of  war,  and  who 
later  became  a  hero  oi  the  Revolution.  His  list  of  the 
casualties  is  as  follows  : — 

"Those  kill'd  at  Freeland's  Fort  in  Capt.  Boon's  party. 
Capt.  Boon,  Capt.  Saml  Dougherty,  Jeremiah  McGlahg- 
len,  Natte  Smith,  John  Jones,  Edwd  Costikan,  Ezra 
Green,  Samuel  Neel,  Matt'w  McClintock,  Hugh  McGill, 
Andw   Woods, 

a  total  of  eleven. 

Killd  in  the  fort, 

Jas  Watt,  John  McClintock,  Wm  McClung,  James  Miles, 
and   Henry   Gilfillen." 

The  terms  of  the  surrender  of  Fort  Freeland  were  as 

follows : — 

"Articles  of  Capitulation  Entd  into  Between  Capt 
John  McDaniel  On  his  Majesties  part  &  John  Little  on 
that  of  the  Congress. 

Article  ist.     The  Men  in  Garrison  to  March  out  & 

Ground  their  Arms  in  the  Green,  in  front  of  the  fort 

which  is  to  be  taken  in  Possession  of  Immediately  by  his 

Majesty's  Troops.  .  ,  ^ 

■^      -^  ^  Agreed  too. 

Mly.  All  Men  Bearing  Arms  are  to  Surrender  them- 
selves Prisoners  of  War  &  to  be  Sent  to  Niagara. 

Agd  too. 

3d.  The  Women  and  Children  not  to  be  Stript  of 
their  Cloathing  nor  Molested  by  the  Indians  and  to  be  at 
Liberty  tO'  Move  Down  the  Country  where  they  please. 

Agd  too. 

JOHN  McDonald.  Capt.  of  Rangers. 

President  Reed  replied  to  the  urgent  appeals  of 
Colonel  Hunter,  Colonel  Smith,  John  Weitzel  and  others. 
Resolutions  were  promptly  passed  by  Council,  and  those 

(1)     Pennsylvania  Archives  vol.  VII,  p.  611. 


in  high  authority  realized  for  the  first  time  that  it  was  a 
serious  blunder,  as  President  Reed  writes : — 

" — to  find  our  best  Measures  defeated  partly  by  the  Neg- 
lect and  Misconduct  of  our  own  Ofificers  &  partly  by  the 
very  improper  Conduct  of  some  Persons  of  Weight  &  Influ- 
ence who  from  Party  views  did  all  in  their  Power  to  distract 
and  censure  the  People  we  were  constrained  to  trust  the 
Defence  of  the  Frontiers  to  Providence  and  the  small  exer- 
tions of  the  People,  immediately  interested." 

He  then  admonished  the  officers  to  do  all  in  their  pow- 
er to  "extinguish  all  disputes,  &c."  and  promised: — 

"If  I  could  flatter  myself  this  happy  Spirit  would  prevail 
I  should  have  Pleasure  in  visiting  the  County  &  examining 
the  State  of  the  Militia — This  I  shall  endeavour  to  do  this 
Fall  if  other  Publick  Business  will  admit." 

The  full  effect  of  the  loss  at  Fort  Freeland  was  not 
known  for  some  time.  A  week  after  the  attack  Col. 
Hunter  advised  President  Reed  that  "the  Enemy  has 
Plundered  and  burned  the  Country  within  ten  or  twelve 
miles,  there  is  a  number  of  familys  in  Distress,  having 
nothing  left  them  tO'  subsist  upon." 

Captain  John  Lee,^  the  third  Captain  in  a  most  patri- 
otic and  distinguished  early  family  of  Pennsylvania, 
owned  considerable  property  within  a  short  distance  of 
Freeland's  Mills.  During  the  time  of  the  bloody  incur- 
sions, John  Lee  was  firm,  and  his  resolution  was  a  great 
comfort  to  the  panic-stricken  settlers.  After  the  destruc- 
tion of  the  fort,  and  its  capitulation,  the  savage  victors 
committed  indiscriminate  plunder  and  murder.  They  im- 
mediately proceeded  to  the  house  of  Captain  Lee,  know- 
ing that  he  possessed  a  well-filled  money  chest.  At  first 
they  rushed  by  members  of  the  frightened  family,  without 
injuring  anyone,  into  the  apartment  where  the  chest  lay. 
Captain  Lee  just  at  this  time  was  returning  from  the 
fields.  He  was  shot  and  killed.  TwO'  of  his  sons,  young 
men,  were  slaughtered  at  the  threshold  of  the  home.  His 
wife,  with  a  suckling  babe  in  her  arms,  and  four  other 
children,  were  led  away  captive.  TwO'  miles  from  the 
house,  the  baby's  brains  were  dashed  out  against  a  tree; 
the  tears  and  weeping  of  the  mother  caused  the  savages 
to  end  her  sufferings  with  the  barbarous  tomahawk. 

(1)  See  Judge  Henry's  letter  to  Secretary  of  War  in  the 
matter  of  Washington  Lee's  application  for  army  appointment. 
Egle,  N.  &  Q.  1896.  pp.  110-111. 


The  survivors  of  this  unfortunate  family,  two  girls 
and  two  boys,  none  of  them  above  twelve  years  of  age, 
were  held  in  Indiana  in  bondage  until  1784-85.  When 
Robert  Lee  learned  the  whereabouts  of  his  brother  Thom- 
as, he  made  arrangements  to  have  him  brought  to  Tioga 
Point,  where  he  was  turned  over  to  his  friends.  Such  was 
his  love  of  Indian  life,  after  so  many  years  of  captivity, 
that  they  were  obliged  to  tie  him,  to  prevent  his  escape, 
when  placing  him  on  board  a  canoe.  When  near  Wilkes- 
Barre  he  was  untied,  but  as  soon  as  the  canoe  touched 
shore  he  jumped  out  and  ran  away.  It  was  several  hours 
before  he  was  again  caught.  Upon  finally  arriving  at 
Northumberland,  he  evinced  all  the  sullenness  of  a  cap- 
tive, and  Indian  boys  and  girls  had  to  be  brought  to  play 
with  him  before  he  showed  any  disposition  to  be  satisfied 
with  his  new  home.  At  last  he  began  to  ask  qusetions, 
and  inquire  for  his  relatives,  and  by  degrees  again  became 
civilized.  Both  Thomas  and  Robert  afterwards  became 
officers  in  the  U.  S.  Army.  Rebecca  Lee  and  her  sister 
were  also  restored  to  their  relatives,  through  the  efforts 
of  their  uncle,  Capt.  Andrew^  Lee,  a  distinguished  Revolu- 
tionary hero. 

True  to  his  promise,  William  Maclay  arrived  at  Sun- 
bury,  and  on  August  5th  wrote  to  Council : — "It  is  with 
sincere  pleasure  That  I  inform  you  That  the  Martial 
Spirit  is  not  yet  extinct  on  the  Frontiers  of  Pennsyl- 
vania." He  stated  that  the  object  of  the  attack  was  the 
magazine  at  Fort  Augusta,  the  cutting  off  of  communica- 
tion with  General  Sullivan, — that  it  awakened  the  inhabi- 
tants ;  that  there  were  five  hundred  volunteers  at  Fort 
Augusta  as  he  wrote.     He  added : — 

" 'Tis  said  McDonald,  in  some  instances,  restrained  the  im- 
petuosity of  the  Savages  with  respect  to  the  Prisoners.  None, 
however,  of  Boon's  Men  were  made  Prisoners.  The  Enemy 
were  amazingly  fond  of  Plunder;  everything,  however,  which 
they  could  not  take  away  was  destroyed." 

In  further  raids  the  victorious  Indians  and  Tories  pil- 
laged and  plundered  the  inhabitants  of  Milton,  and  burned 
Huling's  Mill  and  Tavern  on  Limestone  Run.  But  the 
troops  under  Colonel  Matthew  Smith  arrived  in  the  for- 
saken county  at  last,  and  no  further  trouble  was  exper- 
ienced.   This  old  warrior  became  a  prominent  resident  of 


the  county,  and  its  most  disting-uished  citizen.  He  was 
for  a  short  period  the  Vice  President  of  the  Common- 
wealth, also  a  member  of  the  Supreme  Executive  Coun- 
cil. He  spent  the  last  fifteen  years  of  his  life  as  a  resi- 
dent of  Milton.  The  following  obituary  appeared  in 
Kennedy's  Gazette,  July  30th,  1794: 

"Died,  the  22nd  inst.,  about  sunset,  at  Milton,  Colonel 
Matthew  Smith,  aged  fifty-four  years,  being  one  of  the  first 
patriots  for  liberty;  went  to  Canada  in  the  year  1755  and 
suffered  extremities.  He  was  once  prothonotary  of  Northum- 
berland County.  Was  interred  23rd  instant,  attended  by  a 
number  of  his  friends  and  acquaintances,  together  with  the 
volunteer  company  of  light  infantry  from  Milton,  conducted 
by  Major  Pratt  and  commanded  by  Captain  James  Boyd,  who 
after  marching  about  six  miles  to  Warrior  Run  burying 
grounds  and  shedding  a  tear  over  the  old  patriot's  grave,  de- 
posited his  remains  with  three  well  directed  volleys  and  re- 
turned home  in  good  order." 

Linn's,  "Annals  of  Buffalo  Valley,"  adds  that  "his 
body  was  carried  by  these  soldiers  from  Milton  to  War- 
rior Run." 

Notwithstanding  the  authority  of  the  foregoing  quo- 
tations, and  others  equally  as  reliable,  to^  be  found  in  the 
Colonial  Records  and  Penna.  Archives,  interesting  cor- 
roboration of  this  history  of  the  Fort  is  afforded  by 
the  following  interesting  letter  written  by  Mrs.  Mary 
V.  Derrickson,  at  Delaware  Run,  Dec.  7th,  1855.  She 
was  born  in  Fort  Freeland  and  her  recollection  of  those 
stirring  events  was  remarkably  clear  and  faithful. 

Delaware  Run,  Dec.  17th,  1855. 

In  compliance  with  your  request  I  will  give,  (so  far  as  my 
memory  will  serve)  all  the  account  of  the  early  settlers,  and 
occupants  of  Fort  Freeland.  The  fort  was  situated  on  the 
Warrior-run  Creek  about  4i^  miles  above  where  it  empties 
into  the  Susquehanna  River. 

In  the  year  1772,  Jacob  Freeland,  Samuel  Gould,  Peter  Vin- 
cent, John  Vincent  and  his  son  Cornelius  Vincent  and  Tim- 
othy Williams  with  their  respective  families  cut  their  way 
through,  and  settled  within  some  two  miles  of  where  the  fort 
was  afterwards  built — they  were  from  Essex  County,  N.  J. 
Jacob  Freeland  brought  the  irons  for  a  Grist  Mill,  and  in  the 
years  'IZ  &  '4  he  built  one  on  the  Warrior  run. 

There  were  several  more  families  moved  up  from  the  same 
place,  and  they  lived  on  friendly  terms  with  the  Indians,  un- 
til '11,  when  they  began  to  be  troublesome  and  to  remove 
their  own  families  in  the  summer  of  '78,  they  had  to  leave 
the  country  and  when  they  returned  in  the  fall  they  picketed 


around  a  large  two  story  log  house  (which  had  been  built  by 
Jacob  Freeland  for  his  family),  inclosing  half  an  acre  of 
ground,  the  timbers  were  set  close  and  were  about  12  feet 
high,  the  gate  was  fastened  with  bars  inside.  Into  this  fort 
or  house  the  families  of  Jacob  Freeland,  Sen.,  Jacob  Freeland. 
Jr.,  John  Little,  Michael  Freeland,  John  Vincent,  Peter  Vin- 
cent, George  Pack,  Cornelius  Vincent,  Moses  Kirk,  James 
Durham,  Samuel  Gould,  Isaac  Vincent  and  Daniel  Vincent, 
all  gathered  and  lived  that  winter.  In  November,  Geo.  Pack, 
son  of  George  Pack  was  born,  and  on  the  10th  of  February, 
1779,  I  was  born,  my  father  was  Cornelius  Vincent,  and  on 
the  20th  of  May,  George,  son  of  Isaac  Vincent  was  born. 

In  the  spring  of  '79,  the  men  planted  corn,  but  were  occa- 
sionally surprised  by  the  Indians,  but  nothing  serious  oc- 
curred untill  the  21st  day  of  July,  as  some  of  them  were  at 
work  in  a  cornfield  back  of  the  fort,  they  were  attacked  by 
a  party  of  Indians  about  9  o'clock  A.  M.,  and  Isaac  Vincent, 
Elias  Freeland  and  Jacob  Freeland,  Jr.,  were  killed,  and  Ben- 
jamin Vincent  and  Michael  Freeland  were  taken  prisoners. 
Daniel  Vincent  was  chased  by  them,  but  he  out  ran  them, 
and  escaped  by  leaping  a  very  high  log  fence.  When  the  In- 
dians surprised  them,  Benjamin  Vincent  (then  10  years  of 
age)  hid  himself  in  a  furrow,  but  he  thought  he  would  be 
more  secure  by  climbing  a  tree  as  there  was  a  woods  near 
but  they  saw  him  and  took  him  prisoner,  he  was  ignorant  of 
the  fate  of  the  others,  until  about  2  o'clock  P.  M.,  when  an 
Indian  thrust  a  bloody  scalp  in  his  face,  and  he  knew  it  was 
his  (and  my)  brother  Isaac's  hair. 

Nothing  again  occurred  until  the  morning  of  the  29th,  about 
daybreak,  as  Jacob  Freeland,  Sen.,  was  agoing  out  of  the 
gate,  he  was  shot  and  fell  inside  of  the  gate.  The  fort  was 
surrounded  by  about  300  British  and  Indians,  commanded 
by  Capt'n  McDonnald;  there  were  but  21  men  in  the  fort, 
and  but  little  ammunition;  Mary  Kirk  and  Phebe  Vincent 
commenced  immediately  and  run  all  their  spoons  and  plates 
into  bullets;  about  9  o'clock  there  was  a  flag  of  truce  raised, 
and  John  Little  and  John  Vincent  went  out  to  capitulate, 
but  could  not  agree.  They  had  half  an  hour  given  them  to 
consult  with  those  inside,  at  length  they  agreed,  that  all  who 
were  able  to  bear  arms  should  go  as  prisoners,  and  the  old 
men  and  women  and  children  set  free,  and  the  fort  given  up 
to  plunder,  they  all  left  the  fort  by  12  o'clock  P.  M.  Not  one 
of  them  having  eaten  a  bite  that  day,  and  not  a  child  was 
heard  to  cry  or  ask  for  bread  that  day.  They  reached  North- 
umberland. 18  miles  distance  that  night,  and  there  drew  their 
rations,  the  first  they  had  to  eat  that  day. 

When  Mrs.  Kirk  heard  the  terms  on  which  they  were  set 
free  she  put  female  clothes  on  her  son  William,  a  lad  of  16, 
and  he  escaped  with  the  women. 

Mrs.  Elizabeth  Vincent  was  a  cripple,  she  could  not  walk. 
Her  husband  John  Vincent  went  to  Capt'n  McDonnald  and 
told  him  of  her  situation,  and  said  if  he  had  the  horse,  that 
the  Indians  had  taken  from  his  son  Peter  the  week  before 
that  she  could  ride,  and  about  day  light  the  next  morning 
the  horse,  came  to  them,  he  had  carried  his  wife  to  the  lower 
end  of  the  meadow  where  they  lay  and  saw  the  fort  burned, 


and  it  rained  so  hard  that  night  that  she  lay  mid  side  in  water, 
when  the  horse  came  he  striped  the  bark  off  a  hickory  tree 
and  plaited  a  halter,  set  his  wife  on  and  led  it  to  Northum- 
berland where  there  were  wagons  pressed,  to  take  them  on 
down  the  country. 

In  the  fall  of  78  as  a  company  of  the  settlers  were  leav- 
ing the  country  on  account  of  the  Indians,  they  were  fired  at, 
and  Mrs.  Durham's  infant  was  killed  in  her  arms,  she  fell 
with  it  and  they  came  and  tomahawked  and  scalped  her,  and 
when  the  men  went  to  count  the  dead,  she  raised  up  and  asked 
for  a  drink  of  water.  Elias  Williams,  one  of  the  men,  ran  to 
the  river  and  brought  his  hat  full  of  water  and  gave  her  a 
drink,  they  then  put  her  in  a  canoe  and  took  her  to  North- 
umberland, where  Dr.  Plunket  dressed  her  head,  she  recov- 
ered and  lived  about  50  years.  Her  body  was  afterwards  lain 
in  Warrior-run  burying  ground,  about  a  half  mile  off  where 
the  fort  stood. 

And  now,  Sir,  my  task  is  done  if  it  gives  you  any  infor- 
mation of  which  you  were  not  in  possession  I  am  glad  to 
have  done  it. 

Very  respectfully  yours,  &c., 


At  the  time  this  letter  was  written,  the  pickets  of  a 
portion  of  the  fence  which  surrounded  the  fort  were  still 
standing,  showing  its  actual  size  and  location. 

The  inhabitants  of  Fort  Freeland  should  not  have 
been  taken  by  surprise.  Job  Chilloway  had  forewarned 
them  of  the  coming  invasion,  as  had  another  friendly  In- 
dian, and  also  Robert  Covenhoven,  the  spy  and  scout. 
The  latter  had  been  sent  by  Colonel  Hepburn  to  ascer- 
tain and  report  the  movements  of  the  enemy.  He  trav- 
elled alone  on  his  dangerous  enterprise,  and  during  his 
perilous  journey  was  many  times  near  death  or  capture. 
When  he  reached  Fort  Muncy  on  his  return,  he  informed 
Colonel  Hepburn  of  the  impending  danger;  and  as  the 
enemy's  forces  were  too  strong  tO'  resist,  the  women  and 
children  in  that  fort  were  hastily  placed  in  boats  and  sent 
down  the  river  to  Fort  Augusta.  Covenhoven  notified 
those  at  Fort  Menninger  and  also  at  Fort  Freeland^  but 
at  the  latter  place  the  assembled  settlers  thought  the  scout 

(1)  Included  in  "Penna.  Archives,"  Voll  XII,  pp.  364-366. 
Mrs.  Derrickson  at  the  time  of  the  mascacre  was  but  five  months 
old.  Her  recollections  are  therefore  recollections  of  what  she 
was  told  later.     [Ed.] 

(2)  So  Meginness  says,  but  the  article  in  "Frontier  Forts" 
notes — "but  it  is  said  Fort  Freeland  did  not  get  notice."     [Ed.] 


was  magnifying  the  clanger,  and  they  decided  to  remain. 
The  garrison  at  Fort  Boone  also  remained  behind. 

Ammunition  was  scarce  and  difficult  to  obtain,  which 
accounts  for  the  necessity  during  the  battle  of  having  the 
women  melt  their  spoons  and  pewter  plate  into  bullets. 
Yet  with  attacks  occurring-  so  frequently,  it  appears  to  us, 
at  this  date,  that  the  g-arrison  should  have  been  better  pre- 
pared for  this  final  assault. 

The  effect  of  the  fall  of  Fort  Freeland  was  most  dis- 
astrous to  this  region,  accompanied  as  it  was  by  the  death 
of  Captains  Hawkins  Boone  and  Samuel  Dougherty  and 
their  brave  comrades,  by  the  desertion  oi  Fort  Boone  as 
a  post  of  defense,  and  the  leaving  of  Fort  Augusta  un- 
covered and  easy  of  access  by  the  enemy.  Colonel  Hunter 
held  this  important  base  with  such  a  feeble  force  that  it 
would  have  discouraged  a  less  courageous  commander.  In 
November  the  German  Battalion  was  sent  tO'  him.  This 
consisted  of  one  hundred  and  twenty  men.  They  secured 
the  base,  and  then  were  dispatched  to  build  Fort  Mont- 
gomery. Fort  Swartz,  above  Milton ;  and  Fort  Jenkins, 
near  Bloomsburg,  each  of  these  fortifications  being  gar- 
risoned, and  ten  men  stationed,  as  further  safeguard,  at 
Bostley's  Mills. 

Of  the  prisoners  captured  at  the  assault,  but  few  ever 
again  returned  to  their  families,  most  of  them  having  suc- 
cumbed to  the  privations  of  the  long  weary  march  to 
Canada,  with  its  indescribable  hardships,  scarcity  of  food, 
and  cruel  treatment. 

James,  a  brotlier  of  Captain  Samuel  Dougherty,  who 
was  killed  with  his  comrade  Captain  Hawkins  Boone,  was 
one  of  those  taken  prisoner  who  survived  the  march  to 
Canada.  When  peace  was  declared  he  returned  to  Bos- 
ton. He  was  the  only  one  of  seven  brothers  who  died  a 
natural  death,  and  each  was  a  herO'  of  the  Revolution. 

Cornelius  Vincent,  another  captive,  returned  eventual- 
ly to  Milton,  where  he  lived,  with  his  wife,  until  July  i6, 
1812,  dying  at  the  age  of  76.  A  monument  in  Warrior 
Run  cemetery  marks  the  graves  of  Cornelius  and  his 
wife  Phoebe  Vincent. 


Daniel  Vincent,  his  son,  also  one  of  the  captives,  re- 
turned, and  accidentally  found  his  wife  again  while  at- 
tending a  sleighing  party  where  she  was  visiting  some 
friends  in  New  Jersey. 

Captain  John  Lytle,  one  of  the  signers  of  the  Articles 
of  Capitulation,  returned  to  the  scene  of  the  fort,  was 
again  united  with  his  wife  and  children,  and  removed 
them  to  Northumberland. 

At  the  time  of  the  destruction  of  Fort  Freeland,  Col. 
Hunter's  left  flank  had  been  contracted  from  its  former 
limits  which  extended  to  Lock  Haven,  to  Milton,  with 
his  right  very  weak  but  intact. 

In  and  about  Fort  Freeland,  as  a  result  of  the  attack, 
one  hundred  and  eight  settlers  were  killed  or  led  away  as 
prisoners  of  war,  not  alone  by  Indians  in  their  savage 
and  cruel  treachery,  but  as  well  by  the  organized  militia 
of  Great  Britain.  This  heavy  toll,  to  which  should  be 
added  those  killed  among  the  British  and  their  Indian 
allies,  numbering  possibly  as  many  more,  marks  this  as 
a  definite  battle  of  the  Revolution,  with  the  magazine 
and  army  stores  at  Fort  Augiista,  and  the  cutting  off  of 
the  rear  of  General  Sullivan's  army,  as  the  purpose  of  the 
attack,  and  it  deserves  to  be  identified  as  such. 

Not  only  was  it  an  event  of  great  importance,  but  it 
marked  the  last  cruel  battle  in  this  part  of  Pennsylvania, 
although  affairs  did  not  materially  improve  in  this  depart- 
ment until  the  close  of  the  Revolution. 

The  story  of  Fort  Freeland  and  its  defenders  is  now 
told ;  it  will  always  kindle  in  our  hearts  that  spark  of 
patriotism  which  has  ever  since  animated  the  men  and 
women  of  the  West  Branch  Valley.  A  monument  should 
be  erected  on  this  sacred  spot,  which  should  be  as  impos- 
ing as  those  who  defended  it  were  patriotic ;  and  it  should 
proclaim  to  this  and  future  generations  that,  instead  of 
being  merely  an  Indian  attack  upon  defenseless  and  un- 
prepared settlers,  the  event  it  commemorates  was  a 
well  planned  and  successful  battle,  in  which  the  British 
and  their  Indian  allies  captured  and  destroyed  Fort  Free- 
land,  July  28,  1779. 


The  Lycoming  Historical  Society 

Season  1920-1921 

October  21,  IQ^O 

Address:  "How  Election  Ballots  Should  be 
Marked"   (Illustrated) — Hon.  Max  L.  Mitchell. 

Address:  "Joseph  Henderson  McMinn;  the  Man 
and  Historian" — Mr.  O.  R.  Howard  Thomson. 

Address :  "Joseph  Henderson  McMinn,  The  Col- 
lector" (Illustrated)— Mr.  Boyd  P.  Rothrock. 

November  18,  ip2o 

Address:  The  Williamsport  Academy" — Bruce  A. 

Address  :  "Some  Historic  Trees  of  the  West  Branch 
Valley" — Col.  Henry  W.  Shoemaker. 

January  20,  ip2i. 

Address :  "Some  Newer  Now  and  Thens" — Mr. 
Thomas  Wood. 

Address :  "A  Strong-  Man  of  the  Revolution,  John 
Brady,  of  Muncy" — Mr.  Lewis  E.  Theiss. 

Address :  "Samuel  Wallis  and  His  Mansion  at 
Muncy  Farms"  (Illustrated) — Dr.  T.  Kenneth 

February  ly,  ip2i 

Address:  "Redemptioners  of  Lycoming  County" — 
Mr.  Thomas  W.  Lloyd. 

Address :  "The  Psychology  of  Archives" — Dr. 
Elliott  C.  Armstrong,  D.D. 


Season  1921-1922 

October  20,  1921 

Address:  "New  Light  on  Ancient  Tales" — Mrs. 
Jessica  P.  Krom. 

Address:  "Pioneers  of  Pine  Creek" — Mrs.  Mary 
R.  Wolcott. 

Address:  "Tales  of  Bridle  Path,  Highway  and 
Packet" — Mrs.  Julia  R.  Harris. 

November  ly,  ig2i 

Address :  "Settlements  of  German  Pietists  in  Penn- 
sylvania"— Rev.  J.  A.  Weishaar. 

January  ig,  1922 

Address :  "Reminiscences  of  the  Lycoming  County 
Bar"— Mr.  John  G.  Reading. 

Address:  "Some  Early  Forges  of  Lycoming 
County" — Mr.  W.  W.  Champion. 

February  16,  ip22 

Address:  "Pennsylvania  Manuscripts  and  Printed 
Matter  in  the  Collections  of  the  J.  V.  Brown  Librarj'- 
and  Historical  Society" — Mr.  O.  R.  Howard 




President C.  LaRue  Mnnson 

First  Vice  President Hon.  Max  L.  Mitchell 

Second  Vice  President Charles  T.  Logue 

Third  Vice  President Mrs.  Margaret  Geddes  Lundy 

Fourth  Vice  President.  .Rev.  Elliott  C.  Armstrong,  D.D. 

General  Secretary Thomas  W.  Lloyd 

Treasurer Harry  Clay  Bubb 

Honorary  Recording  Secretary Hannah  Webster 

Honorary  Corresponding  Secretary.  .  .Charles  H.  Eldon 
Editor  of  Publications O.  R.  Howard  Thomson 

Trustees  for  two  years :  Dr.  T.  Kenneth  Wood,  Mrs. 
Jessica  P.  Krom. 

Trustees  for  one  year :  Hyman  A.  Slate,  J.  Roman 


President C.  LaRue  Munson 

First  Vice  President Hon.  Max  L.  Mitchell 

Second  Vice  President ....  Mrs.  Margaret  Geddes  Lundy 

Third  Vice  President Dr.  T.  Kenneth  Wood 

Fourth  Vice  President James  B.  Krause 

General  Secretary Thomas  W.  Lloyd 

Treasurer Harry  Clay  Bubb 

Honorary  Recording  Secretary H.  M.  Collins 

Honorary  Corresponding  Secretary .  .  .  Hannah  Webster 
Editor  of  Publications O.  R.  Howard  Thomson 

Trustees  for  two  years :  Hyman  A.  Slate,  Mrs.  Jes- 
sica P.  Krom. 

Trustees  for  one  year :  Rev.  J.  A.  Weishaar,  William 
P.  Beeber. 



Memorial  Tree  Committee 

Appointed  November  i8,  1920,  to  secure  records  of 
all  men  and  women  of  Lycoming  County  who  while  serv- 
ing in  the  armed  forces  of  the  United  States  of  America, 
or  her  Allies,  or  in  one  of  the  recognized  Welfare  Organi- 
zations, lost  their  lives  in  the  World  War  and  to  com- 
memorate their  memory  by  the  planting  on  the  two  sides 
of  some  public  road  in  the  County  of  an  avenue  of  Pine 
Trees : 

O.  R.  Howard  Thomson,  Chairman 

Harry  Clay  Bubb. 

Maj.  William  P.  Clarke. 

Thomas  W.  Lloyd. 

Charles  T.  Logue. 

Mrs.  Margaret  Geddes  Lundy. 

Dr.  T.  Kenneth  Wood. 

S.  Van  Brown. 

The  records  of  131  men  and  women  (with  official  con- 
firmations for  all  save  one  man  who  lost  his  life  with  the 
Italian  Army)  are  on  file;  pine  trees,  from  the  State 
nurseries  have  been  promised  by  Chief  Forester  Pinchot ; 
a  contribution  of  $100  towards  the  expenses  of  the  work 
was  received  from  Women's  Food  Conservation  Com- 
mittee of  Lycoming  County ;  and  arrangements  for  rais- 
ing the  additional  amount  needed  practically  completed. 

The  actual  planting  of  the  trees  is,  however,  held  up 
owing  to  the  receipt  of  an  official  notice  from  the  State 
Highway  Department  advising  the  committee  that  the 
department  will  not  prevent  such  multilation  of  the  trees 
as  may  be  deemed  necessary  in  the  interest  of  the  wires 
of  the  telephone  and  telegraph  companies  strung  along 
the  highway. 



Appointed  February  17,  1921,  to  prepare  and  print  a 
map  and  report  of  the  Indian  trails  of  the  West  Branch 

Katharine  W.  Bennet,  Chairman. 

Mrs.  Katharine  L.  Beeber. 

William  P.  Beeber. 

Mary  E.  Crocker. 

Hon.  Emerson  Collins. 

Hon.  Frederic  A.  Godcharles. 

Mrs,  Aimee  S.  Hastings. 

Glenn  B.  Hastings. 

Mrs.  Sylvia  B.  Hays. 

Bruce  Hunt. 

H.  P.  Lincoln. 

Thomas  W.  Lloyd. 

Mrs.  Margaret  Geddes  Lundy. 

Hon.  Max  L.  Mitchell. 

Mrs.  Agnes  W.  Rhoads. 

Joseph  G.  Rhoads. 

Mrs.  Mabel  Ord  Shoemaker. 

Col.  Henry  W.  Shoemaker. 

O.  R.  Howard  Thomson. 

Margaret  Wilson. 

Mrs.  Clara  Wood. 

Dr.  T.  Kenneth  Wood. 


Lycoming  Historical  Society 


No.  3 

Joseph  Henderson  McMinn 

Corrigenda  and  Addenda 

Page  14:  Note  3. 

Change:  "Lycoming  Chapter,  D.  A.  R.,"  to  read, 
"Fort  Antes  Chapter,  D.  A.  R." 

Add:  The  Fort  Antes  Chaper,  D.  A.  R.,  under  the 
miltant  leadership  of  its  Regent,  Mrs.  J.  P.  Krom,  has 
since  Mr.  McMinn  dehvered  his  speech  redeemed  the  Pine 
Creek  Burying  Grounds  and  the  graves  of  fourteen  of  the 
soldiers  of  the  Revolution  therein  buried  have  been  suit- 
ably marked. 

The  Fort  Antes  Chapter,  D.  A.  R.,  has  also  marked  in 
the  Antes  Burying  Ground  the  graves  of  Col.  Antes,  of 
his  son,  and  of  the  six  soldiers,  killed  by  Indians,  first  to 
be  there  buried.  Upon  the  dissolution  of  the  Antes  Me- 
morial Association,  that  association  turned  over  to  the 
Fort  Antes  Chapter,  D.  A.  R.,  a  small  fund  remaining  in 
its  treasury,  the  turn  over  being  conditional  upon  the 
Chapter  agreeing  to  keep  the  graveyard  in  order.  Both 
the  fund  and  trust  were  accepted  by  the  Chapter.  The 
graveyard  is  now  fenced  in.  In  19 17  the  Pennsylvania 
Historical  Commission  and  the  Fort  Antes  Chapter,  D. 
A.  R.,  erected  a  boulder,  with  tablet  commemorating  the 
Fort.  The  bolder  is  about  one-half  mile  northeast  of  the 
actual  site, 

(Information  received  from  Mrs.  Jessica  P.   Krom. 
Regent,  Fort  Antes  Chapter,  D.  A.  R.)